Why Do You Need an Expert for a Patent Search?
In India, getting a patent takes two years since it offers the owner a 20-year competitive advantage and so requires thorough examination. You don’t want to make an application for a product or process that already exists in some form, given how much time it takes. As a result, a Patent or Prior Art Search is required.
Some innovators now believe they can do it without the assistance of a patent attorney. What they get in return is a savings of ₹7000 to ₹50,000 in patent lawyer expenses. However, there’s a danger that this cost-cutting will result in a failed patent application, causing you to waste time and money producing something that already exists.
What Is the Purpose of a Patent Search?
The Patent Office grants thousands of patents each year, looks at several more applications, and also deals with hundreds of thousands of provisional patent applications. Given these numbers over time, there are likely to be applications similar to yours. In one way or another, your application depends on the details contained in these applications. The Patent Office does have an online database of all of these, where you can search by several parameters.
The available parameters are:
- Application Number
- Patent Number
- Applicant Name
- Inventor Name
- Inventor Country
Importance of a Patent Search
- A patentsearch reveals the patentability (or scope of patentability) of an invention. Inventors are often not well versed in the scope of patentability covered by the law
- For drafting up the claims for the invention, your patent agent/attorney must be aware of the available prior art. A patentability search determines whether patent rights can be pursued and what falls under the prior art’s scope. As a result of the search investigation, one can determine the strength of the innovation and generate claims that do not infringe on any patents or fall within the prior art
- The innovation may often not be original and the search for patentability may disclose patents/inventions similar to the innovation. In such cases, one may create new ideas and refine the invention to make it patentable by reading the prior art literature
- One can recognise the intensity or weakness of the present invention by understanding the literature present in one’s area of invention. This in effect helps draft a better patent application and makes it less vulnerable to Patent Office rejections. On the other side, it will also assist in determining whether to continue with filing or forsake the applications
- The search for patents can also reveal certain companies that are keen to obtain patents in the technology field related to your invention. In such cases, it gives you the lead on which to contact companies to license your invention
- Often, we can see that few existing patents already available in the database have not been commercialized. If you analyze the patent search, it may be possible to see why commercialization is not viable to help you determine if you intend to continue filing the patent application.
Important Points to Consider When Conducting a Patent Search
- One must note that the applicant needs to describe their entire invention whilst applying for a patent
- Their application will be considered prior art, available to anyone, even though their patent was denied
- Quite frequently this will lead to their opponents being granted access to the former’s hard work
- A patent review would be useful to prevent such a situation
- While one’s invention is not patentable in the light of the patent law, one can still use the invention as a business secret and give it to others to make a profit
- An assessment of patentability would help investors know whether a patent application would warrant the costs incurred.
What Is the Role of a Patent Attorney?
Each search, particularly for popular industries, returns several results. As an industry expert, you would be able to tell if these are similar to your invention. But a patent attorney will still be helpful.
- The reasons for this are that patent attorneys know their way around the patent database
- They are aware of all the terms to search for when you’re applying
- They can tell when you are capable of interpreting the similarities between your invention etc
- Also, they will be able to advise you on whether you can frame your application
- Their advice will help you to understand how it is different from similar ones.
Does this mean that you hire a patent attorney each time you’re working on an idea? Not at all. You should do a preliminary prior art search for yourself before you get started. You should be able to tell if there is an obvious clash between your application and an existing one.
It is possible to do so without the assistance of a patent attorney, which will save you money. However, keep in mind that the savings you hope to achieve could result in a failed patent application that costs you a lot of time and work in the long run. As a result, always heed the advice of people at the Patent Office.